From June 2008 issue

List price when tested: £23,452
Kerbweight: 1500kg
85% match: 1275kg
Max towing weight: 1800kg
Towball limit: 82kg
Braking 30-0mph: 11.9m

THE MARKET for petrol-powered 4×4 estates is a small one, but the Subaru Legacy 2.5 Sports Tourer fills this niche well. We’ve tested the automatic version.

Spend time towing with the Legacy, and you soon learn why this car has a loyal following in caravanning circles. Hitched up to an Abbey Expression 470 (MTPLM: 1310kg), the Subaru was stable at the legal limit, and performed very well through our emergency lane-change test.

No trouble with hill start

‘Unflappable’ and ‘agile’ are two words scribbled in the test driver’s notebook. Four-wheel drive is especially useful when performing a hill start, and the Legacy had no trouble with the 1-in-10 slope. It pulled away cleanly in dry conditions, and we know from towing with other Subarus that it’s unfazed by a bit of rain.

Pulling the caravan from 30-60mph took a reasonable 13.7 seconds. However, the four-speed auto has irritating gaps between ratios which means the Subaru doesn’t accelerate as quickly as you’d expect of a car with 171bhp. Towing along hilly roads also showed up this shortcoming, with revs climbing steeply whenever the ’box dropped down a gear.

There is a manual override which gives the driver control of gear selection. It’s worth making use of this facility to reduce the number of unwanted gear changes.

Folding seats

Load the car up and you may need to fold the seats down to fit your holiday luggage in, as there’s a modest 459 litres with the seats upright. Fold them down and that increases to 1628 litres. Rear-seat space isn’t as generous as in some rivals.

Running costs are what concern us most about the Subaru. Fuel bills will be steep and resale values are less than impressive.

We say
Towing: 4/5
Solo: 4/5
Practicality: 4/5
Buying & owning: 2/5

Verdict: 3/5. Tows well and benefits from four-wheel drive, but costly to run.

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